Wal-Mart is not exactly high on the list of places to go for a great date.
Yet, that’s exactly where my husband Jon and I took me on our very first date! Okay, so that’s not the only place we went that evening, but we spend a few minutes in that particular store taking care of a small errand.
Even stranger is that our second date actually included some grocery shopping, and we spent approximately 75% of our third date helping one another complete Christmas shopping for our children.
During the 14 months Jon and I dated, we did a lot of “errand dating” as we tried to make the most of our time. As single parents, we both understood it was infinitely easier to take care of business without our children in tow. In fact, “The Errand Date” is still a standard for us, simply because we have limited time, both to plan dates to take care of business and limited financial resources.
It’s that last one that gets us every time. Jon and I want to be good stewards of the money God has blessed us with, and for us that means not going into debt or using credit. And yet one date night can easily cost over $100 when you include expenses such as paying the babysitter, dinner at a nice restaurant with a tip, price of movie tickets or other activity, and sometime parking. It adds up quickly!
Two years ago, Jon and I decided it was in our best interest to take our commitment to date each other seriously, and that included not over using our standard errand date. Along the way, we’ve discovered how a bit of creativity and some good planning go a long way in making our date nights fun without going over our budget.
[bctt tweet=”Here are five easy suggestions for Valentine’s Day on a Budget”]
Here are five easy suggestions for Valentine’s Day on a Budget
Cook a meal together:
Some of the best dates my husband and I have shared are being together in the kitchen. He chops the veggies while I cook the stir-fry. It’s teamwork at it’s best. Got a hubby who doesn’t know a knife from a frying pan? Pull a comfy chair into a corner of your kitchen and enjoy his company while you cook. Every good chef needs a taste-tester! Don’t forget to pull out the fancy china dishes if you have them, and set the table as nicely as you can.
Remember how much fun it was to take your engagement or wedding photos? Why not do it again? Get all dressed up and grab your selfie-stick for some photo shoot fun. After you’ve taken lots of pictures, pick out your favorite and have a couple of copies printed have a photo kiosk. Then go together and pick out frames for the photos. Now you each have a nice keepsake for your desk to go along with the memory.
Take a Walk:
You don’t need a beach to stroll along at sunset to have a romantic walk! Choose some place nearby … your neighborhood, a local park, or a nearby nature reserve. Even a downtown shopping area will do. Walk slowly. Hold hands. Talk. Walking is good for your heart … both exercise for your physical heart and connecting with your spouse for your emotional heart.
Five Dollar Date:
This date idea will cost you $10 total. You and your spouse must go together to a dollar store. The mission is that you each must buy a gift for the other, but your total budget is just $5. Give yourself a time limit (perhaps 20 minutes). Try to find the best gift you can find in that amount of time. You can choose whether you want to wrap your gifts prior to exchanging. The fun is shopping together and having to be extra creative with your tiny budget.
Magazine Shopping Spree:
One year my husband and I had no money to spend at all on buying gifts for each other. We came up with this idea, and it’s still one of our favorite ways to give each other something without spending any money! Basically find photos of things you wish you could buy your spouse if you had the extra money. A new car or truck? A cruise? A beautiful diamond necklace? None of that is too expensive for this shopping spree! Look through old magazines, shopping inserts from the Sunday paper, or even photos that your print straight from the internet. Once you’ve found all the photos you need, attach them to a piece of paper or index cards. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts.
One of the hardest parts of dating your spouse is finding childcare if you need it. Perhaps you can afford a nice dinner out, but babysitting costs make it prohibitive. Here are a two of suggestions that go beyond asking grandparents for help, though by all means call on willing grandparents if they are available.
Teen siblings make great babysitters! They are already familiar with the family rules and routines. Instead of giving them money, make lucrative trades. Perhaps you are willing to wash their dishes for a week in return for them keeping their younger siblings for the evening. Or maybe you’ll allow them extra time to spend with their friends.
Do you know another couple with children? If so, offer to watch their children on evening while they go out. In exchange, they watch your children another night.
Dating your spouse on a budget can be hard. But it’s not impossible. With a little creativity and a bit of planning, even the most budget-conscious couple can enjoy fun and memorable dates that don’t include errands!
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